By Adedayo Akinwale and Udora Orizu
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has lamented that the potentially dire consequences of the country’s current national economic outlook have begun to manifest in troubling ways, especially by the escalating trend of insecurity across the country.
To this end, he said there is need to articulate a national long-term social and economic development framework with a broad acceptance by critical stakeholders to provide a pathway towards fixing the malaise that has for too long mitigated against attaining the country’s fullest national potentials.
According to Gbajabiamila, “The potentially dire consequences of our current national economic outlook have begun to manifest in troubling ways, especially by the escalating trend of insecurity across the country. We know that we have significant problems.”
The Speaker while speaking at a public hearing on Monday in Abuja said the House recently considered and adopted motions on the need for Nigeria to develop a longer term social and economic framework vision and the need to make adequate loans for a post oil economy in Nigeria, which led to the public hearing.
Gbajabiamila noted that such a framework would not be a product of politics or a tool for politicking, but it is a foundation for national rebirth, as has been done successfully in other parts of the world.
He stressed that it is now apparent to those paying attention that the era of oil is over, while the world is racing away from the extractive economic model towards a knowledge economic model that prizes technological innovation and the marketplace of ideas over heavy industry and trade in natural resources.
The Speaker said presently, the country is entirely at the mercy of fluctuations in the global price of oil and gas at a time when it is increasingly evident that prices are on a sustained downward trend that is no longer sustainable.
Gbajabiamila stated that the country must be resolute in its determination and unyielding commitment to overcome the challenges.
He added: “We have a limited window of time to act before worsening circumstances force our hands in ways we cannot predict. I urge you to move with due haste, paying attention to all the intervening events without being distracted by them.”
Also, the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clement Agba, said Nigeria must ensure that there is alignment between its economic plans and various regional agreements the country has signed.
The minister revealed that the ministry considered many factors in the preparation of the Medium Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) 2021-2025, and Nigeria agenda 2050.
This, he said, included the review of the African Union Agenda 2063 and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) vision 2050 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030.
“This is to ensure that there is alignment between our plans and these various regional agreements that we have signed into. And we have ensured that with the SDGs, that the 17 goals have been merged to be aligned with the 26 Technical Working Groups that we have,” he noted.
Agba pointed out that the new plans captured the concentric diversification of the Nigerian economy — both in the oil and non-oil revenue sources –through initiatives encapsulated in relevant policies, programmes and projects of the government in the new plans.
He stated: “The reason for concentric diversification is that often now and then, Nigerians keep saying that the Nigerian economy is not diversified. That’s absolutely incorrect, the Nigeria economy is diversified. The problem with our diversification is that it is not concentrating. We keep saying that Nigeria’s economy is heavily dependent on oil, yes! It was some years ago when oil was contributing about 70- 80% of revenue and about 95% of our foreign exchange, but today, the non-oil sectors contribute about 55 per cent, which is higher than the contribution of oil to the national revenue.”
The minister, however, said that the oil sector contribution to foreign exchange is very high and with 8.9 per cent contribution to the GDP, any major change in the oil sector has a huge effect on the economy.
Agba added that agriculture presently contributes about 24 per cent to the GDP, while the digital economy is growing very fast and contributing higher than oil at the moment, saying: “If that is the case, we cannot say the Nigeria economy is not diversified.”
The minister added that for sustainable growth and development, in the face of dwindling global resources, Nigeria must focus on removing the binding constraints to its growth prospects.
The Chairman of the committee, Hon. Abdulganiyu Olododo, said strategic economic development frameworks are integral to achieving sustainable and measurable economic growth, as well as quality human capital and infrastructural development.
He added that it is a depressing fact that Nigeria which has been blessed with intellectual, brilliant and gifted minds, excels greatly in coming up with eloquent and masterfully crafted development plans, but ends up coming short during the implementation process.